Pink Peppercorn and Orange Tea Fruitcake
Earl grey, darjeeling or satsuma (Japanese orange) teas would make delicious alternatives, but the pink peppercorns add a subtle kick to the spices in this dense, dark fruitcake.
2 T. loose pink peppercorn and orange tea leaves
1 c. each dried: chopped dates, currants, golden raisins, dark raisins, chopped figs and cherries
½ c. candied orange peel
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. each allspice and nutmeg
1 c. butter, softened
2 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. dark molasses
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat the oven to 300°F and generously grease a bundt or tube pan; coat with flour and tap out the excess.
Add the tea to 4 cups boiling water and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes while you combine all the dried fruit in a large bowl. Pour the tea over the fruit without straining it, and let it sit for another 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the molasses and orange and lemon zest and juice.
Drain the fruit well, reserving the tea. Measure ½ cup of the tea and discard the rest.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the reserved tea in 2 parts. Stir in the fruits and nuts and scrape into the prepared pan. Bake for 3 ½ hours. If the cake is darkening too quickly on top, cover it loosely with foil for the last hour. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about half an hour, then invert onto a plate. When completely cool, wrap well in foil and store at room temperature. Serves 16.